Thursday, 24 October 2013

Chapter 26: Paperwork and panels

Full disclosure...

Home Study is a pretty intensive process and there is a lot of work to get through. The paperwork which is sent to panel is pretty extensive (I do wonder just how much of it actually gets read - but still, it's there on file to prove that the Social Services have properly covered all the bases should anything go wrong...). But panel is the huge looming target towards which you are inexorably heading. The crunch day...

In good old X-Factor results programme style, therefore, perhaps I should artificially build up the tension a bit before I tell you about the day itself and the outcome. So... (Adopts Ant and Dec Geordie accent). The winner is... Dum dum dum... Dum dum dum...

Well, to fill in the time, perhaps it would be useful to look at just what goes to panel and who, in the case of our Local Authority, they are...

Paperwork: There is a lot a stuff in your panel paperwork. Our copies pretty comprehensively filled up an A4 ring binder - and we didn't have all the confidential stuff. The panel gets even more... However, here's a breakdown of what we know was provided.

  • Prospective Adopters’ Report: Based on a BAAF format. Compiled by your social worker, this is the main report on which the panel make their decisions. Particularly important to consider in the run up to panel are the sections on the applicants' strengths and weaknesses. This, inevitably, provides some clues on the avenues which the panel may wish to explore when they invite you into the panel meeting.
  • Life Maps: A graphical depiction of all the key events in your life and whether they were positive or negative experiences
  • Family trees
  • Eco-Map: A chart which sets out your main social and support networks
  • Finance declaration and analysis
  • Health and Safety form (including pet questionnaire and firearms questionnaire)
  • A Day In The Life: A report setting out what an “average” day might comprise of before and after placement
  • Matching Matrix: This is the document where you set out what you are willing to accept in a child, what are absolutes (e.g. number, gender, age etc) and what are negotiable. 
  • Sexual Preferences Form: although, fortunately, in our case we didn't need to fill this one in... Phew!
  • Employment Histories: including basic references from employers verifying you really are no you are and that you do really have a job and an income!

Other documents included:

  • Medical Reports
  • Any formal psychological and attachment style assessments
  • Preparation Day homework and exercises
  • Home study homework and exercises
  • Reflective Diaries
  • Referees’ reports and Social Worker's reports on referee interviews
  • Reports from childcare experience supervisors
  • Reports on visits to Foster Carer, Adoptive Parent and Adopters Play-scheme
  • Sample Welcome Book

Panel: Of course, then there's another question... Just who are these people who will make long lasting decisions on our futures? What are their qualifications? It's hard for any individual adopter to know precisely how things differ between their own experiences and those of others going through the process with different authorities. However, in our authority there was an attempt to ensure that the were voices on the panel, independent voices, which would reflect the various different interests operating within the adoption process.

Below is a list of the different representatives which sit on the adoption and matching panels for our local authority. The panel itself will have a minimum quorum so it may be that not all the members will be able to attend every session. However, since they all work within a similar regulatory framework, I imagine that most panels will have a somewhat similar mix of membership...

Example Panel make up:

  • Chair - who may chair all incarnations of the adoption and/or matching panels for your agency.
  • Children’s Services Social Worker - most likely several, possibly reflecting different elements of the child and the adopters' journeys.
  • Local Councillor - (in the case of a Local Authority adoption service - to provide accountability to the elected members of the council who have collective democratic oversight for all the activities of the executive branch of the council).
  • Local Authority/Agency Medical Advisor
  • Other Agency special advisors
  • An adult who has experienced being adopted
  • Birth-parent who has given a child up for adoption
  • Adoptive parent 
  • Foster carer 
  • “Independent Panel Member” - of whatever shape or form...
  • Admin support/secretariat/notes taker


Three Pink Diamonds said...

A good and informative blog for those about to or thinking about adoption!

Vicki TBB said...

Such a useful post for those considering adoption or during the very early stages of approval.

Thanks for linking up to #WASO

Average Dad said...

Really informative and interesting to read your take on the adoption process.
Having sat on an adoption panel as an independent member I can assure you that we do read all the reports. It can be quite arduous. With most social workers completing thorough and comprehensive reports it is hard at times for it to not feel like a rubber stamping exercise.
Anyhoo, keep on keeping on and I look forward to your next post